Posts Tagged ‘Gary Gensler’

Breaking news: Regulators are (re)discovering that maybe speculation CAN be excessive

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Breaking news: Regulators are (re)discovering that maybe speculation CAN be excessive

BubblesCourtesy of TIME, by Justin Fox writing at the Curious Capitalist Blog

The announcement this morning (pdf!) by Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman Gary Gensler that his agency is considering imposing limits on the size of trades by energy futures speculators may amount to something of a landmark (or turning point, or whatever portentous phrase you prefer) in Washington’s relationship to financial markets.

Gensler justified the move as part of the CFTC’s duty "to eliminate, diminish or prevent the undue burdens on interstate commerce that may result from excessive speculation." This is a big deal because, for the past 40 years, financial regulators have increasingly gravitated toward the position that speculation can never be excessive. As an official in the Clinton Treasury Department in the late 1990s, in fact, Gensler helped fight off efforts by then-CFTC chairman Brooksley Born to rein in what she felt was excessive speculation in over-the-counter derivatives markets. Yet now here he is proposing new rules to rein in oil and natural gas speculators.

The roots of the benign attitude toward speculation that prevailed in recent decades can be found (among other places I’m sure, but those places aren’t on my bookshelf) in a famous 1953 paper by Milton Friedman on "The Case for Flexible Exchange Rates" (which in turn can be found in his book Essays in Positive Economics). The basic thrust of the paper—that anything but a permanently fixed exchange rate or a free-floating one is inherently destabilizing—still holds up reasonably well. But I’m not so sure about this passage on speculation:

People who argue that speculation is generally destabilizing seldom realize that this is largely equivalent to saying that speculators lose money, since speculation can be destabilizing in general only if speculators on the average sell when the currency is low in price and buy when it is high.

Maybe it’s the "in general" that’s the problem here. On average and over time, the argument may be right. But there are surely extended periods during which price bubbles persist—as in the oil futures market last year—and speculators make lots of money by betting on further price increases, thus destabilizing markets. So Gensler is proposing rules that would


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Bank Index Breakout? Stock Market Bulls Sure Hope So

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In today’s chart, we look at the Bank Index (BKX).

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Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

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